Posts Tagged With: sailing

Rock and Roll

Our first few nights on Tomahawk were peaceful, despite some bouncing around out in English Bay. We were a bit wary rowing into shore when the waves picked up, but we found a place to lock our Walker Bay onto the beach and all was well. However, I found myself suffering from an inability to get into anything, even reading, while sitting on the boat.

Jason rigged up a tarp for a sun shelter, but it flapped around at night making a ruckus. So that idea was scrapped. Most people have a proper Sunbrella cockpit shelter to keep the sun off. Bits of rigging make noise at night too, and not just on our own boat. We dubbed a neighbouring craft “Noisy Halyard” due to the pinging noise of the line slapping against the mast all day and night.

We soon discovered that English Bay was making us irritable and exhausted. So we moved into False Creek. The silence and lack of motion were a welcome respite from the effort of the bay. We anchored next to the dock, so it takes us much less time to get to shore. Plus we can sleep at night.

Back on July 1st, for our first night as liveaboards, we slept in the V-berth, a small cabin in the bow of the boat. If it was just me, I could probably sleep fine in there, but the two of us were way too cramped. Jason is also not as short as me and the weird angles made it extra confining. The boat cushions need replacing too. Musty smells added to our discomfort, so they had to go. Since then, we’ve converted the dinette to a berth (bed) and have been okay there. It’s a bit short for Jason and there isn’t much wiggle room for either of us. Luckily we like each other a lot and we have been settling in to a routine.

Last night, we stayed on our friend Jamie’s boat Paramour. We are boat-sitting while he’s away delivering another boat to Mexico (poor guy, hehe). It was much more comfortable, albeit a bit musty and rocky. After watching an amazing fireworks display all up close and personal, we woke up to the sound of glass breaking. But that’s a whole story in itself, maybe for the next post. Also a bit about our brand new engine not working right…

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Categories: Friend's Boat, Life Aboard | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Refloating Again

A boat on the beach is always a sad image. Early one Monday morning in June, as I was getting up for work, I saw our friend Jamie had left me a voicemail. He’s a man usually more inclined to use Facebook or texting, so I knew something was amiss.

I feared for Tomahawk.

But to avoid keeping you in suspense, I will say right off that Tomahawk was sitting perfectly safe and sound where we left it. We had recently moved after an uncharacteristically petulant call from the VPD Maritime Unit. They said we were in the swimming area off Kits Beach, but the guy on the phone, allegedly a police officer, didn’t seem to know the anchoring rules or what our permit was for… and he asked if we were using a brick to anchor because we have a spare anchor on our bow… weird.

Anyway, so Jamie’s boat Paramour had landed on the beach exactly where Tomahawk was last fall. I called work to see if I could come in late and they gave me the okay. Jason and I took our shovel down to the beach to dig it out. Jamie’s brother Michael arrived shortly afterward with more shovels and we all madly set to work. As usual, the media came by to make a story our of it and many spectators stopped and chatted. A few people offered to help, all fellow boaters, while the majority simply sipped coffee and stared.

It turned out his anchor hooked into a tire on the bottom of English Bay, leaving the boat free to drag. With so much trash around here, it seems like it was bound to happen eventually. Knowing how easily that can happen is a good motivator for setting your anchor properly (pulling back on it with your motor in reverse) every time.

I had to go to work, but Jason and the others managed to kedge off. Jamie and a couple of others put out three anchors to pull Paramour out at high tide.

Another successful refloating!

Categories: Anchoring, Friend's Boat, Misadventures, Troubleshooting | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liveaboards

We have been living on Tomahawk for a week now (which is a good excuse for the lack of posting). There are still a lot of things to do to get settled in, so we are busy: buying propane, hooking up a battery/electrical system, scraping and painting the bottom, cleaning inside and out, organizing our stuff into bins and compartments, etc. Lots of ups and downs, sometimes literally, especially on windy days!

Soon I will post further updates about our various adventures before and after moving on board, such as refloating our friend Jamie’s boat Paramour and fitting everything into storage. Also, yesterday we were sort of trapped on the boat because our dinghy is hard to get into on a choppy bay. Today we plan to remedy this by buying a fender step to hang over Tomahawk’s side.

If all goes well, I’ll be updating a bit more frequently again in the near future!

Fender Step

Our new fender will look something like this

Categories: Cleaning, Electricity, Getting Started, Life Aboard, Practical Stuff, Supplies | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Warming Up

It finally feels like spring today. I know, I know. People in the rest of Canada and many parts of the US, Asia, and Europe will be thinking, “Finally? It’s only mid-February!” But to us spoiled people here in Vancouver, this month marks the beginning of the end.

The days are getting longer too, which gives me a fuzzy feeling and an itch to get working on the boat.

However, I realized today that we have everything we need to actually sail Tomahawk. The sails are beat up, but seem workable. The hull is solid, albeit due for a cleaning and a fresh coat of bottom paint. The rudder responds well to the tiller. Our biggest concern is the engine. I’m starting to understand why so many boaters are fans of diesel over gasoline. And electric starters, rather than pulling the cord, which I suck at.

We also need to take our engine out of the too-small engine compartment and mount it on the transom. This will be one of our first priorities. Of course, if the engine won’t start properly, we may need to shell out the cash for a new one, which will hurt a lot.

After basic preparations, we will soon need to turn our attention to the battery bank. We’ll need a new battery, in all likelihood, as well as some sort of generator. We have a solar panel on board, but we are thinking hydro would be awesome. And possibly wind. The more sources, the merrier.

Of course, before we can live aboard, we will need a solution to our toilet problem. No, we haven’t solved that yet. We will likely ask a few sailor friends for advice and see what our bank account thinks of the various options.

And a shower. We have our solar shower, which should be fine for summer, but we need some sort of hiding place to shower in. I’m thinking maybe one of those collapsible camping showers, if we can set it up in the cockpit. Hmm…

Lots to think about. Can’t wait to finally start sailing next month!

Categories: Getting Started, New Boat, Practical Stuff, Supplies | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Fenders

My boss at work happens to be an avid boater, although of an entirely different class from Jason and me. Whereas we keep our boat anchored and intend to provision it for living aboard while keeping our costs as low as possible, my boss uses his vessel entirely for pleasure trips, keeping it docked at a somewhat pricey marina at Coal Harbour and furnishing it with all the latest devices (or rather, paying for someone else to furnish it). He also has a rather large powerboat. Tomahawk’s diminutive 27 feet of sailboat will receive much more direct attention from its owners.

As with most things in life, the differences are neither positive nor negative. Instead, they merely serve to illuminate the diversity within the boating community. Some powerboaters hate sailors and vice versa, but really, variations on a theme can make that theme much more dynamic and interesting. So much wasted energy trying to figure out who’s better or more right when we should be celebrating each other’s experiences.

Anyway, the other day, he told me that they are tearing down and rebuilding his rented boathouse. He has to clear out a lot of stuff that has been stored there, which could lead to some decluttering – always a good thing.

The best part for us is that he has offered me and Jason some spare fenders that he no longer needs. Since we lost most of ours in the Great Beaching of 2013, additional fenders will be very valuable.

(In case you aren’t sure, fenders hang off the sides of a boat to keep it from scraping on docks, other boats, or anything else. They come in many shapes and sizes.)

Fenders on sailboat

The fenders are the white things hanging off the side

So yay for free fenders! Knowing my boss, they are probably good quality, too. He’s gutting out the boathouse tomorrow, so we may be due for a paddle out to our boat in the near future for some fixing up. I’m starting to get itchy for the next phase. Let’s hope for warm, dry weather and an early spring!

Categories: Supplies | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bits and Pieces

Here’s hoping you all had a great holiday, whether or not you actually celebrate Christmas or any other occasion. To the Christmas babies out there: Happy Birthday!

Now that Tomahawk is sitting securely with a friend’s watchful eye nearby, we haven’t spent as much time out on the water. Of course, the cold and wet don’t help with motivation. We continue to collect items that we will need once we seriously start overhauling the boat, but for now, they are sitting in a box in our living room.

I’m sad to report that our hand-cranked blender from Vortex has sprung a leak. We didn’t use it very much before this happened, so we may not be replacing it. If you know of any other similar items that are more solid, please let us know in the comments!

 

Categories: Getting Started | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Two Hundred Feet of Chain

Tomahawk will not end up on the beach again!

Jamie very generously lent us a length of super heavy chain from his 46-footer. He won’t be using it while he’s away, so we went out in the freezing cold and dark to hook it up to our own chain. Now the boat is weighed down by all that chain, plus it won’t chafe through the way the rope did. That means we can leave it out in English Bay without having to worry.

Meanwhile, the weather isn’t as wet as it was this time last year. That’s a good thing.

On the downside, we couldn’t get the engine going when Jamie and I were out, so he had to give us a tow with his dinghy. Due to the extreme cold and the fact that Jamie had time constraints, we decided to leave Tomahawk rafted up to his boat overnight. Jason went out in the morning and dropped the anchor in an appropriate location, once again with the help of our guardian angel Jamie. The engine wouldn’t start then either. Internet research has revealed that gas doesn’t vaporize well in the cold, so that could be the issue (also the fact that we haven’t started it up in a little while). Hopefully it will work fine once the weather warms up a bit more.

Our own dinghy appears to have a small leak, so it is currently sitting on the boat. Good thing we got those kayaks! Even without a vehicle, we can carry them down to the water from here and paddle across. We don’t have spray skirts, though, so we tend to get a bit damp. We haven’t actually gone all the way across the bay with them, but we did take them out for a spin on Jason’s birthday last month.

Once spring hits, which is late February here, I’m sure the kayaks will get a lot more use, as will the boat. We are thinking of taking proper sailing or even cruising lessons, if we can save up the cash.

 

Giant Anchor

We thought the chain was a better idea than getting an anchor this size!

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

And another thing…

We’ve been thinking (not seriously) of changing our blog’s name to “And another thing…” because every time we fix something on the boat, we find another thing we need to work on. It’s fun on one level, but it’s also very time-consuming and we have yet to actually take Tomahawk out sailing.

Here are a few of the items on our current to-do list:

  • Get the water out of our port compartments. We believe this leaked in through the companionway hatch when the boat was on its side. In other words, it’s not a hull breach and just needs to be sponged out.
  • Clean the interior. It was a bit of a mess before, but since the grounding, everything is all over the place. We bought some biodegradable, sealife-friendly Sea Safe cleaner. If you ever own a boat, please don’t use bleach or other chemicals that harm the environment. We haven’t tried it out yet, but this product is pretty cheap and very concentrated, so it should last a long time. They claim that three capfuls mixed in water will clean our whole boat.
  • Fix or replace the mainsail. Jamie took a look at our mainsail and discovered a tear in the cloth. The whole thing is pretty worn out. Sails are not cheap, so we may just duct tape the tear until we get a bit of practice in and we have some extra
  • Rig up an anchoring light. Right now, we have two solar-powered garden lights from Canadian Tire that are supposed to come on automatically at dusk. They don’t meet the regulations, but they will do until we can figure out how to hook up our electrical system – which brings us to the next point.
  • Hook up the electrical system. It turns out we don’t need to concern ourselves overly with an inverter. DC power will run all the boat’s built-in lights. We just need a solar panel, wind generator, and/or water generator to keep the battery charged. We might also have to do some rewiring, which we have no clue about. I’ve been reading Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey and am learning a lot. I highly recommend this book for people who have no idea about electricity, like me.
  • Patch the Zodiac. Yesterday, we went down to clean up the boat. Our dinghy was still floating, but had taken on a surprising amount of water. It had also deflated a bit. Jason was able to paddle out to the boat without sinking, so hopefully it will be okay until we can fix it. The goal was to get our pump, but the lock on the companionway has seized up. So he wasn’t able to get in and we returned home dejected.
  • Get WD40. See above. If we can’t unseize the lock, we will have to cut it and buy a new one.
  • Put a bridle on our anchor. Having your anchor bridled reduces the amount of strain on the line, since the force is diffused in two directions. It would also allow us to drop the hook directly off the front of the bow, instead of off to one side the way it is now. That would reduce chafe, which was what caused the line to break before.
Anchor bridle

An anchor bridle on the folks at Zero to Cruising’s boat. Check out their awesome blog by clicking on the image!

I’m sure there are a few more things and as soon as we finish one project, something else will crop up. If the dinghy does sink or become irreparable, we now have kayaks that we bought super cheap (display models in the off-season, dontcha know?). We will still be able to get out to the boat to move things forward.

 

Categories: Getting Started, Maintenance, New Boat, Practical Stuff | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Hole in the Water, or How to Refloat a Boat

The trip to the Vancouver Police property office happened in the freezing rain. The dinghy was in pieces, with the floorboards removed “for easier transport” and it was covered in grime. (See this post to find out why our Zodiac was there.)

It was so dirty that we realized we couldn’t take it in a taxi. Jason had to run off to Home Depot to get a tarp and some rope while I waited with our stuff. It wasn’t really a waste of time and money, because you can never have too many tarps or too much spare rope, right? Once we had it wrapped up, we managed to get a cab and stick the thing into our storage room in the building’s basement. It smelled of dead sea creatures, but neither of us had enough ambition to wash it off.

We thought retrieving the dinghy was the hard part.

On Tuesday while at work, I got a voicemail from the VPD Marine Unit. In the high winds, Tomahawk’s anchor line broke and the boat washed up on the beach – on the opposite side of the bay from where it was anchored (see map below). They said it was undamaged, as far as they could tell, other than the missing anchor and chain.

When my heart stopped pounding, I asked to leave work early. My boss is a boat owner, so he was very understanding and my coworkers were great too. It was dark when I got down to Sunset Beach, but it was still easy to spot the mast pointing through the air toward the shore at a dysfunctional angle.

Grounded Sailboat

Tomahawk Grounded at Sunset Beach (Photo: Nigs Donald)

The cops had placed yellow tape around the area, but they warned me that people might try to loot the boat. I had no idea how to proceed. Jason was working until midnight, so he had to get a play-by-play through my frantic text messages.

The constable recommended coming back at high tide early the next morning, but I didn’t have a plan yet. I had called a marine assistance company, but the guy quoted me at $2000 for a tow. He later reneged and said it would be more like $5-600, but I had already moved on to another course of action, which was to frantically scream for help via Facebook, the Vancouver boating and sailing meetup group, and text messages.

Amazingly, a whole slough of people responded, including some total strangers. Jason and I went to a boating knot tying class earlier this year as part of a local meetup group’s activities. A few people from the group came out to help, which was excellent, because they actually had some idea what they were doing. It was inspiring how many other friends also offered their assistance.

Jason and I spent Wednesday morning buying a new anchor at Wright Mariner, where Steve, a former fifteen-year liveaboard, felt so bad for us that he gave us ten percent off and some useful advice. Jason had to work from four to midnight, so I headed to West Marine to pick up some chain and rope (not cheap!).

The evening high tide turned out to be grossly insufficient to do anything with the boat, although people had dug a hole in front of the keel to prevent it from digging back in. Someone showed me a tide app that indicated the following morning’s high tide would be a meter higher, so we decided to reconvene at 5:45 am.

I had bought cheap rain pants at Canadian Tire, but they ripped when I got in the car first thing in the morning. My advice? Don’t go for the cheapest option. Once they had a hole, it kept growing larger and larger, until they were hanging off of me in shreds. I did keep them on though, because they were more or less intact for about three inches above my boots, which is where it mattered the most. It looked pretty funny though.

Our refloating adventure wasn’t without its mishaps (e.g. soaked feet) and personality clashes, of course, but by rowing out in our dinghy to drop the new anchor at a right angle to Tomahawk, we were able to create some leverage on the boat. We also tried first to keep the halyard (line for raising the sail) tied to a log on the beach, so that Tomahawk would stay well on its side. This was to prevent the keel from digging back in to the ground when it started to move away. A military spotter who lent a hand told us that the incoming tide would fill in the hole dug the previous day for that purpose, so we needed to take another tack.

Unfortunately, having the boat tied to shore with people hauling on the line to keep it heeled over created a pull in the wrong direction. Another total stranger, Jamie, happened to be passing by in his dinghy with an outboard. He offered to lend a hand and three guys, including Jason, sat in his dinghy to pull the mast in the same direction as the anchor line – in other words, towards the water, where we wanted the boat to go.

Meanwhile, on deck, I was busy with one other person hauling on the anchor with the aid of a winch handle. The rode was wrapped around the winch drum (essentially a device for cranking) and we were able to haul Tomahawk back into the water by pulling it over onto the other side, keel to shore. Now the keel wouldn’t dig in and the hull sat farther out from the sand, in deeper water.

“We’re losing tide!” I kept hearing. I wasn’t sure if the boat was going to make it out before the water level sank too low again. Our high tide was the highest we would have for the next week or so, at least, so I was thinking we might need to pay for a tow after all.

Then suddenly Tomahawk leveled out, sending everything crashing below deck. We were floating happily in the water again! We kept cranking on the rode to get as far out as possible, so that it wouldn’t get stuck again.

After a scramble back to shore to collect our stuff, most people went on their way. Sadly, I didn’t get to say goodbye to most of them or thank them for their amazing help, so I will do it here: Thank you, Michael, Richard, Star, the other Michael, Jamie, Sarah, and Jay. And to those I had on standby: Claudy and co, Emily, Mike, and Jaynie.

With sore muscles but a happy crew, Jason motored us into False Creek through a sunlit, sparkly morning. Jamie stuck around to help us pick a spot to drop anchor close to the Aquabus ferry dock where we were before. He lives on a 46-footer called Paramour and has logged over 40,000 miles of water throughout his cruising days. A teacher by training and a generous person by nature, he has offered to show us the ropes in exchange for food and drink.

Now I know why they call a boat a hole in the water that you throw money into. The new anchor, rode, rubber boots, swivel, shackle, and other necessary odds and ends gouged a huge chunk into our bank account. But it could have been worse: the rocks could have gouged a huge chunk into Tomahawk’s hull.

Richard, a long-term sailor and a natural teacher as well, checked over the hull and keel at low tide. He pronounced them free of cracks, which is excellent. However, last time I was on the boat with Jamie, we found some water in two port compartments. He suspects a water tank line leak or water that crept in through the cockpit when the boat was on its side, not a hull breach. Let’s hope he’s right.

In the end, we discovered the kindness of the boating community, as well as the VPD Marine Unit, who were professional and helpful throughout the whole ordeal. We learned a few technical things. We experienced the drastic difference the tide makes, and we were able to enjoy the immense gratitude that comes from being so lucky. Out of the four boats that ran aground, ours was the only survivor, thanks in large part to all those who came to our aid.

*The boat drifted from Point A to Point B on the map below, through the water, of course.

Categories: Anchoring, Troubleshooting | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Anchoring Fee: $400 Per Week

On the way home from work, I overheard two men chatting on their way to a hockey game. Whenever the home team plays at the stadium here, the Skytrain fills with blue and white jerseys, along with the odd red, yellow, and black one from the Canucks’ past.

The men’s conversation had little to do with hockey. One man said to the other, “All the boats are cleared out of the harbour now, because they charge four hundred dollars for a week of anchoring. That’s sixty dollars a night!” As we passed the “harbour” in question (actually False Creek), he pointed out the distinct absence of anchored crafts.

Although Tomahawk is still out in the Pirate Bay, this news alarmed me. At the same time, I knew I had seen at least two boats, one sail and one power, anchored this morning. So I was mostly confused. Maybe they’re creating a new fee that hasn’t been implemented yet, or just came into effect today, I thought. After all, they are moving toward disallowing anchoring in Burrard Inlet, which sucks because that’s where we planned to anchor if I get into Simon Fraser University for my master’s degree in social anthropology starting next year.

Since getting a boat, I have learned that a lot of people consider anchored vessels “eyesores,” although those same people don’t seem too concerned about the huge tankers that sit out in English Bay for all to enjoy. See, those are good for the economy, but sailboats are more self-sufficient. Except that sailors, including liveaboards, contribute to the economy by buying food and gas and parts and other stuff, just like anybody else. I don’t know.

Then there are the many ugly buildings, parked cars, and trash bins that litter the city, among other potential “eyesores.” Don’t get me wrong; Vancouver is a beautiful city with lots of green spaces and awesome architecture. My point is that I don’t understand how small boats are seen as problematic and obstructing the view, while the municipal government is considering putting in 70-storey buildings in the West End. Go figure.

As it turns out, the city website still says that anchoring permits in False Creek are free. So either the winds of change are blowing, or the dude on the Skytrain has no clue what he’s talking about. My money is on the latter.

False Creek

False Creek is full of all kinds of boats! And the stadium in the background is full of hockey fans!

Categories: Anchoring | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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